Victoria's public aquatic facilities (swimming pools) are regulated to prevent and control potential public health impacts from microorganisms that can cause human illness. 

Aquatic facilities have the potential to amplify illnesses, with the risk of illness being transmitted increased if pool water is not properly treated or if the aquatic facility is not well managed. 

Cryptosporidium is responsible for most outbreaks of illness associated with aquatic facilities. 

In 2017–18 there were eight outbreaks caused by Cryptosporidium in Victoria. Seven of those were associated with aquatic facilities (Department of Health and Human Services 2018). 

Cryptosporidiosis is especially debilitating for people with compromised immunity – such as young children, the elderly and people on immunosuppressive medications. 

With population growth and more people using aquatic facilities, the risk of developing cryptosporidiosis increases.

Reviewing the Regulations

While the Regulations manage public health risks from microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses, they are not designed to address public health risks from microorganisms such as Cryptosporidium. 

As part of a current review of regulations, the department is reviewing aquatic facility requirements and providing clarity on the roles and responsibilities of aquatic facilities and local government. 

The department is also supporting aquatic facilities in the safe maintenance of facilities. The department has published Water quality guidelines for public aquatic facilities – managing public health risks

The department continues to promote the Healthy Swimming initiative to educate the public on healthy swimming behaviours to maintain pool water quality. 

Further work is required to address issues relating to the growing demand for access to aquatic facilities through population growth and policies such as the inclusion of pool safety in the Victorian school curriculum. 

This requires planning and design to support safe access and address emerging water quality issues related to population growth and climate change. 

Find out more

The department has a cryptosporidium in pools page for information about cryptosporidium and its public health management.

References

Department of Health and Human Services 2018, Communicable disease epidemiology and surveillance cryptosporidium data, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.

 

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Aquatic facilities

Aquatic facilities have the potential to amplify illnesses if pool water is not properly treated.